A Walk Through Deep Time

Alistair Brickell discussing the Burgess Shale creatures

A Walk Through Deep Time is an ongoing research project which invites people to share scientific, philosophical and cultural ideas as part of a roving discussion and walk through ‘deep‘ or geologic time. A walk event was recently held which followed a farm fenceline of 457 metres to represent 4.57 billion years, and involved astronomers, geologists, physicists, and biologists as well as matauranga Maori practitioners, philosophers, artists, teachers, rural neighbours and a wider public. A similarly wide range of participants are currently being sought for walk events to be held in New Plymouth, Taranaki as part of the SCANZ 2013: 3rd nature exhibition event.


We exist largely within a human scale of time. In days, weeks, and deadlines – decades and generations. Rarely do we attempt to comprehend the context of the timescales of the earth, or the universe. Vast, complex, and full of unknowns, the topic requires many scientific knowledges to come together, and also envelopes what are often important elements of different cultural world views. By walking, and talking our way through time, we can begin to build new sets of reference points.

As shown in the below images, the perspective offered by this time period is also often under-represented in books and diagrams due to spatial practicalities. Billions of years are compressed and simply labelled ‘Precambrian’ for example. By showing the full time period to scale in a physical environment, this project is interested to reveal this wider perspective on all life on earth, including ourselves.

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